Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard Russell.
Richard, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I think sometime around the age of six I made my first collage and knew then and there that I NEEDED to be an artist when I grew up. I moved from Florida to attend the Atlanta College of Art in 1985 and I’ve lived in the city ever since, mostly in Midtown. I’d planned to study graphic design but ended up with a photography degree. Somewhere in there, I developed a crush on printmaking, then fell in love with artists’ books. With a little nudge from a photo professor, I interned at Nexus Press on and off for five or six years and published a tiny book with them. So many folks from the Press became family and mentors for me. For the past 20-plus years, I’ve worked full time as a graphic designer. I’ve also shown my personal work in group and solo shows in galleries across the globe. I tend to make my personal work in full-bore, almost obsessive-compulsive phases for a couple of years at a time and then have to retreat from that level of energy for a while. The cycle always renews, and I get back to my work table with a fresh box of Xacto blades and new glue sticks, and I always find a new story to tell. It’s always a different story, with a different technique or approach. I try to keep it/me evolving.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Between playing with design, photography, printmaking, and books, I kept circling back to collage. It’s still my most natural, fluid medium and favorite meditation, and this meditative mindset flows out across collecting, dissecting, categorizing and filing my source materials, then washes down into the selection, editing, cutting, and composition of my pieces. My file cabinets are bulging with art history, botanical prints, anatomy diagrams, vintage beefcake magazines, old letters, and mildewed papers. Notes and random stuff I find in parking lots. I love working in collage because of its inherent nose-thumbing of context and origin: gender, species, and any other taxonomy labels can be reassigned with the flick of a blade and a smudge of glue stick. I can take a perfectly innocent bouquet, attach some muscle fibers, and slather it with innuendo. I love finding that perfect liquid/Baroque arabesque between sinew and stem; my inner Dr. Frankenstein laughs at the newly formed creature on the table before him.
Throughout my career in making things, but especially with my collages, I’ve always been drawn to the human body as my central subject matter. We come in such a wide array of variations and we are capable of gorgeous contortions. We are each familiar with the territory, to a greater or lesser degree, yet so few of us have any idea how this shell we live in works. And living in an age that coexists between analog and digital, we can be as temporal as the paper we are printed on or the life of a battery charge. It’s depressing but fascinating to me that we’re becoming so disconnected from the natural world around us. So few of us see the stars at night any more, or flip physical pages…
Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
We artists have always been the historians, capturing and recording our era. Keepers of the family photo album.We also get the joyous/dubious honor of being the tricksters and provocateurs who help prod culture forward and push it toward the new, the next.
It would be disingenuous of me to claim my work was non-political, as much as I might wish it floated outside that space. I create from a middle-age white male queer perspective, consciously using vintage porn and other body-related imagery to tell my version of how humans interact with themselves, others, and the space around us. My work isn’t driven by “The News” and is rarely a direct commentary on current events, but it can’t not be affected by what goes on around me. Some days are cloudy and dreary, other days a glorious sunrise. But I’m usually focusing on something more personal and internal, and I prefer to leave most of my anger and frustration outside my studio space. Sometimes it’s about nothing more than a composition or combination I found fascinating, for no reason other than my own joy. Creating is therapy, a way to process and filter and comment on the world I share with everyone else.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I show up in galleries every couple of years when I’m in a making phase. Otherwise, my work is always on view at myrichardsart.com and on social media channels.
- Website: www.myrichardsart.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org